Five vinyl window fabricators that have been longtime licensees of CertainTeed Corp. have abandoned the mother ship to manufacture their own line of products for regional markets. BMD Window Co. of North Kansas City, Mo.; H&M Vinyl Window Co. Inc. of Freeport, N.Y.; Midway Industries Inc. of Bedford Park, Ill.; Alliance Vinyl Windows Co. Inc. of Mount Ephraim, N.J.; and Andco Technologies of Slidell, La., have banded together to form the American Window Alliance.
Some of the fabricators realized nearly two years ago that CertainTeed's product line did not fit the regional needs of their customers because CertainTeed focused more on its East Coast clientele, claimed Art Strauss, Midway Industries' president and owner.
"The path that they were going down wasn't the path that I wanted this company to go down," Strauss said.
For H&M Vinyl, the problem was marketing, said sales manager Lou Kraus. He said CertainTeed did not focus enough on potential customers in New York.
The only way for the five companies to fulfill their regional needs was to design their own line of vinyl windows and to look for another extruder, Strauss said.
For more than a year the five firms brainstormed on what would make the ideal window line for each of their specific areas of the country. They then set out to find an extruder, and chose Monroe, Ohio-based Dayton Technologies Inc.
Dayton allowed the alliance to design its own windows, but offered advice on the project, Strauss said.
"We were able to bring a lot of new concepts into this design that we have learned over the last few years," said Bill Uhl, Dayton's director of corporate development and planning.
However, he added, "Most of the ideas were theirs. It's their product line."
Strauss stressed that the split from CertainTeed was a friendly one. "It was really important to me we parted on friendly terms," he said.
"We felt that change was needed to give our customers more of the products they were demanding," said Kristin Leonard, general manager of Andco Technologies.
When the licensees' contracts came up for a five-year renewal, it was the opportunity they had been looking for, Strauss said.
The amicable breakup was like a McDonald's franchisee wanting to offer fried chicken and pizza alongside the Big Mac, CertainTeed Executive Vice President Brad Mattson said from the firm's Valley Forge, Pa., headquarters.
"They wanted more flexibility and independence to do their own thing," he said.
Mattson disputed the fabricators' contention about CertainTeed's product line, saying that the firm's windows already are compatible with all regions of the country. He added that CertainTeed now has about 24 fabricator licensees.
The alliance members were not a large part of the overall operations, but, Mattson said, "We're trying to retain as much of that business as we can."
The alliance hopes to attract more members that wish to design their own vinyl window lines.
As of now, there are territories open in Kentucky, West Virginia, Ohio, the East Coast and the entire western half of the United States, Strauss said.